July 22, 2005

Curious Monkey: The Pain and Suffering of Garnishment My paycheck is being garnished. What are my options? What are your experiences? Any recommendations?
  • Well, as long as they're not using parsley, which is such an old, fuddy-duddy, "fish fry at the american legion lodge" garnish, not to mention difficult to staple to a paycheck, or something like hibiscus flowers where the garnish itself distracts from the thing which it is garnishing, I don't see a problem. I recommend citrus fruit zests, though once more, the problem of attaching them to a paycheck may make this more trouble than it is worth. Consider skipping the presentation aspects of your paycheck and concentrating on making it a delightful, hearty paycheck on its own. A garnish may be overkill.
  • Suck it up... suck it up... Happened to me two years ago for a school loan gone-bad (I'll spare you the story). Yeah, the thought of having your paycheck garnished does quite a cluster-fuck to your emotions (it did to me anyway). But after a while, you forget it's even there. You will have to adjust your spending obviously (if the garnishment will have a large impact on your income). In the long run you will most likely be better off. Your best options were probably available prior to the garnishment being enforced to begin with. I'm not aware of any options you may have now, unless of course you are willing to quit your job, find a new one and begin a game of "cat and mouse" with whoever is garnishing your pay.
  • What exactly does having your paycheck garnished mean?
  • Means that they got a judgment in court to force payment of a debt and submitted the order for payment to the employer's HR/payroll department. Installments are taken out after taxes and before the employee gets it. Quite handy in landlord/tenant arrears and in child support situations. SMT is correct that the best options are before the excretia crosses path with the rotating blades.
  • It's where the "MAN" coordinates with your HR dept. or Accounting Dept to take money out of your check before you get it, as you've owed someone in the govt. for too long, lost a lawsuit case or owe back child support.... There are other reasons, but those are the most common. mk1... depending on where you work, and how tight you are with the Acct, HR, and your boss.. you may be able to work something out... Someone I know defaulted on school loans, and Fannie Mae came out Hard Core after his check. He was barely scraping by anyway, and with the new deduction, it was determined that he would probably have 6 or 7 bucks a day left after bills and such... Worked out a dealie with the honchos where he was "officially" demoted, and so lost a pay bracket... However, he would receive a monthly "bonus" check, which under the TOA of the garnishment, Fannie couldn't touch..... By no means I'm a an Acct... and I assume it's borderline illegal, but it is a possible option.... Still... he ended up being garnished longer, and with interest ended up paying more, (since they take percentage, not exact dollar amount), but he would've gotten scurvy or died somehow, or *gasp* had to move back home with mommy (!!!!!), otherwise...
  • and.... what decon said.....
  • Short of faking your own death, not too many options. Debaser's scheme sounds good, if you can pull it off -- but that would take a rare kind of boss. Normally, the boss or HR just crumbles in intimidation once they're faced with an Order. You can likely get the Order varied, if you can show that the garnishment is above a certain percentage or leaves you in poverty, that sort of thing. That'd be tough though, as the garnishment is likely set out in accordance with the regs as it is*. The only real way out is to satisfy the debt. And garnishment is the easiest way of doing that, as it requires no effort on your part whatsoever. It's a crap situation, yes, but it's likely the best crap situation you're likely to encounter until the debt gets paid. Things are also going to depend on the nature of the debt being serviced -- you didn't elaborate on that, and I'm not gonna pry. Some Orders may be easier to vary than others -- ordinary commercial debts may be more flexible than changing child support obligations, for example. Then again, family law has always been more open to a well-crafted sob story, so maybe it'd be easy to get a variance. Don't know without more background, and I'll leave those considerations with you in order to not have to divulge too many private details on yon internets. *Local restrictions apply.
  • Oh -- one more thing -- once the debt finally gets paid, remember to see a credit bureau guy or financial advisor. You'll want to make sure that it's officially recorded that the debt has been satisfied, in order that you won't have that anchor attached to your credit rating for the rest of your life. It may take some time for it to work its way off the books, but you can't forget to do it.
  • I knew a guy that got his company give him a car (it was a used fleet car) instead of a raise/bonus one year, for this very reason. YMMV
  • If it is debt, the best thing to do is to also make extra payments on it to get it paid as soon as possible. The longer it gathers interest, the more money you owe.
  • If it is debt, the best thing to do is to also make extra payments on it to get it paid as soon as possible Speaking from personal experience, people tend to be in debt b/c they dont have the money to pay it off.
  • Thanks for all the advice coming in, the monkeys are the best. Keep it coming. As far as what the debts about, I have no idea at this point, still in contact with HR to find that out, from there we'll see what I can do to *legally* resolve this. I don't have any child support issues, so we'll see. . .
  • Ummm... if you don't even know why they're garnishing your paycheck... you better find out ASAP!!!!! Usually a levy of this type comes about after repeated (like 1-2 years) contact from a organization/company, (Fannie Mae in my friends' case, didn't acutally take action for 3 years) or a lost lawsuit, and I think you would remember being in court... You should really check to make sure that you're not a victim of identity theft.... They usually only resort to the paycheck garnishing if the debt is in the mid to high thousands or more. (or if it's a government agency, such as the IRS, but they like to seize your bank account if possible, first)
  • ummm... but don't freak out...
  • additional update: the collector is. . . hold your breath. . . the unemployment security department. I collected unemployment, had it denied, won on appeal, then the *employer* appealed, won, around and around and I finally just said to hell with it. . . America. . . I hear they have more freedom and democracy in North Korea (soon)
  • Any ideas on countries to relocate too? I'm open to all suggestions at this point. . .
  • additional update: the collector is. . . hold your breath. . . the unemployment security department.
    that's poetic. i know it's really fucked up. but it's pure poetry.
  • Any ideas on countries to relocate too? I'm open to all suggestions at this point. . .
    the netherlands. cool, though low, place. unemployment is good if you've worked for six months.
  • Is Fannie Mae related to Sally Ann?
  • You should consider yourself "lucky" that they're only garnishing your wages... the USD accidentally overpaid my dad when he was on it by $300. He knew it was wrong (dumbass) but he took it anyway. They contacted him about repaying it, so he went down to the offices with a check for $300 in his hand. When he got there, the cops arrested him. They were grabbing everyone who showed up that day for the same reason, like a lame sting operation. Anyway, he sat in Central Booking overnight, saw a judge in the morning. The judge ordered that he repay the debt, and said that after two years probation his record would be cleared. Apparently they were making an example out of people. Unfortunately, my dad was a Public School teacher, (still on probation with the job) and the Dept. of Ed won't let people teach with felony charges ($200+ is a felony). So, long story short, he got arrested, spent a night in jail, saw a judge who ordered him to do what he was GOING to do anyway, and lost his job. Fuckin' USD.
  • Debaser - isn't that a pretty clear case of entrapment?
  • I guess it would've been, but they made him admit he knew about the overpayment before the arrest. When you're down there to pay something you owe, and someone says "Hey, you do realize we overpaid you, correct?" and you say yes... it apparently amounts to an admission of guilt...
  • Yeah, this is a pretty damn fucked up country right now, no doubt about it. Correct me if I'm wrong, but before Reaganism wasn't unemployment available no matter what your circumstances (within reason) without your bastard employer holding benefits over your head like some damocles sword? Ah, for the good old days of pre-Reaganism. . . In spite of all this, my living situation these days is a lot less financially intensive than most monkeys out there so this isn't the end of the world (until more creditors dogpile on me) so there's hope. Keep the cards and letters coming re personal stories, experiences, resolutions, etc. My feeling is that my story is just one of many out there becoming worse and more intrusive and punitive by the day. Any recommendations on reading materials, resources I might consult, etc?
  • I came home one day to find an empty house, an absent girlfreind, and $30,000 in credit card debts. Pretty much the only thing she left was her retarded cat. I made the mistake of attempting to satisfy the debts, rather than declaring bankruptcy, which would have been far less costly and harmfull than I realized. I discovered the hard way that most creditors are willing to negotiate, if you show any willingness to pay. This includes both the original creditor, as well as collection agencies, who collect a percentage of what they manage to recover. Believe it or not, in some circumstances it might be possible get away with as little as 10 or 20 cents on the dollar, and/or forgiveness of interest accrued. The trick is in KNOWING YOUR RIGHTS, which vary considerably amongst jurisdictions. I believe that the FTC regulates debt collection practices under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. Google is your freind in this instance. Here in Canada, collection agencies are governed by a very strict set of rules. Failure to comply with them can severely irritate some Judges, as the Account Recovery Corporation discovered to their considerable chagrin and expense when I successfully sued them for failing to properly record a discharged obligation. The first thing to do is find out what laws apply in your area. A visit to a NON-PROFIT credit-counselling agency is a good start. On the positive side, after 8 years of living with me, the cat is now almost normal.
  • Why were you responsible for her debts unless you signed off on the credit application?
  • cynnbad: my ex-husband forged my name to a bunch of credit cards and ran up about $30K in debt without my knowledge. (They don't check, man.) If the cards had been in his name, I wouldn't have had a problem, since consumer debt, at least in California, is personal. When I found out about that, after having left him and moved cross county, my options were limited. To avoid bankruptcy, I'd have had to file suit against him in California, since that's where the event took place, taking time off from work and piling up travel expenses wasn't an option. We don't know the full story, here, but there are ways one can get blindsided.
  • It isn't my wish to derail this important topic whith myopic self-examination, so I'll keep this brief, Cynnbad. She was 15 years younger me, and I was a co-signer on all of her credit applications. White powder can alter behaviour beyond any recognition;improperly socialized animals can sometimes be rehabilitated.